Note: BSBSUS501 Develop workplace policy and procedures for sustainability supersedes and is equivalent to BSBSUS501A – Develop workplace policy and procedures for sustainability
|Supersedes and is equivalent to BSBSUS501A – Develop workplace policy
and procedures for sustainability
|Updated to meet Standards for Training Packages Minor edits to
clarify performance criteria
About BSBSUS501 Develop workplace policy and procedures for Sustainability
This unit describes the skills and knowledge required to develop and implement a workplace sustainability policy and to modify the policy to suit changed circumstances.
It applies to individuals with managerial responsibilities who undertake work developing approaches to create, monitor and improve strategies and policies within workplaces and engage with a range of relevant stakeholders and specialists.
No licensing, legislative or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of publication.
Industry Capability – Sustainability
Elements and Performance Criteria
|Elements describe the
|Performance criteria describe the performance needed to
demonstrate achievement of the element.
|1. Develop workplace sustainability policy|| Define scope of sustainability policy
Gather information from a range of sources to plan and develop policy
Identify and consult stakeholders as a key component of the policy development process
Include appropriate strategies in policy at all stages of work for minimising resource use, reducing toxic material and hazardous chemical use and employing life cycle management approaches
Make recommendations for policy options based on likely effectiveness, timeframes and cost
Develop policy that reflects the organisation’s commitment to sustainability as an integral part of business planning and as a business opportunity
Agree to appropriate methods of implementation, outcomes and performance indicators
|2. Communicate workplace||2.1 Promote workplace sustainability policy, including its expected|
|sustainability policy||outcome, to key stakeholders
2.2 Inform those involved in implementing the policy about expected outcomes, activities to be undertaken and assigned responsibilities
|3. Implement workplace sustainability policy|| Develop and communicate procedures to help implement workplace sustainability policy
Implement strategies for continuous improvement in resource efficiency
Establish and assign responsibility for recording systems to track continuous improvements in sustainability approaches
|4. Review workplace sustainability policy implementation|| Document outcomes and provide feedback to key personnel and stakeholders
Investigate successes or otherwise of policy
Monitor records to identify trends that may require remedial action and use to promote continuous improvement of performance
Modify policy and or procedures as required to ensure improvements are made
This section describes language, literacy, numeracy and employment skills incorporated in the performance criteria that are required for competent performance.
|Reading||1.1, 1.2, 4.2, 4.3||· Identifies, analyses and evaluates complex textual information to determine legislative and regulatory requirements, trends and outcomes|
|Writing||1.2-1.7, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1,
3.3, 4.1, 4.3, 4.4
|· Researches, plans and prepares documentation using format and language appropriate to context, organisational requirements and audience|
|Oral Communication||1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1,
|· Presents information and seeks advice using language appropriate to audience
· Participates in discussions using listening and questioning to elicit the views of others and to clarify or confirm understanding
|Numeracy||1.5, 4.3||· Interprets and uses mathematical equations to|
|calculate numerical information relating to time durations and costs|
|Navigate the world of work||1.1-1.6, 3.1, 4.4||· Develops, monitors and modifies organisational policies and procedures in accordance with legislative requirements and organisation goals|
|Interact with others||1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1,
3.3, 4.1, 4.3
|· Selects and uses appropriate conventions and protocols when communicating with internal and external stakeholders to seek or share information
· Plays a lead role in consulting and negotiating positive outcomes with a range of stakeholders
|Get the work done||1.2, 1.4-1.7, 2.3, 2.4,
3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.5, 3.6,
4.1, 4.3, 4.4
|· Plans, organises and implements work activities of self and others that ensure compliance with organisational policies and procedures, and legislative requirements
· Sequences and schedules complex activities, monitors implementation, and manages relevant communication
· Uses systematic, analytical processes in relatively complex, situations, setting goals, gathering relevant information, and identifying and evaluating options against agreed criteria
· Evaluates outcomes of decisions to identify opportunities for improvement
Unit Mapping Information
|Code and title
|Code and title
|BSBSUS501 Develop workplace policy and procedures for sustainability||BSBSUS501A Develop workplace policy and procedures for sustainability||Updated to meet Standards for Training Packages
Minor edits to clarify performance criteria
Assessment requirements Performance Evidence
Evidence of the ability to:
- scope and develop organisational policies and procedures that comply with legislative requirements and support the organisation’s sustainability goals covering at a minimum:
- minimising resource use
- resource efficiency
- reducing toxic material and hazardous chemical use
- employing life cycle management approaches
- continuous improvement
- plan and implement sustainability policy and procedures including:
- agreed outcomes
- performance indicators
- activities to be undertaken
- assigned responsibilities
- record keeping, review and improvement processes
- consult and communicate with relevant stakeholders to generate engagement with sustainability policy development, implementation and continuous improvement
- review and improve sustainability
Note: If a specific volume or frequency is not stated, then evidence must be provided at least once.
To complete the unit requirements safely and effectively, the individual must:
- outline the environmental or sustainability legislation, regulations and codes of practice applicable to the organisation identify internal and external sources of information and explain how they can be used to plan and develop the organisation’s sustainability policy
- explain policy development processes and practices
- outline organisational systems and procedures that relate to sustainability
- outline typical barriers to implementing policies and procedures in an organisation and possible strategies to address.
Workplace Sustainability Policies and Procedures
Developing workplace sustainability policy Define scope of sustainability policy
When a workplace is following ‘best practice’ policies, they often need to be developed to include
monitoring, evaluation and entrench continuous improvement. Every larger organisation needs to have an environmental policy, to help ensure they are being held accountable to the required legislative and regulatory guidelines.
The environmental policy is a key document in the life of an organisation, but is usually just one page in length. This policy sets out in broad terms what the organisation will do in relation to environmental issues, complying with environmental law and protecting the environment. It should be signed off by the CEO or Chairman of the Board of Directors to demonstrate commitment from the top of the organisation. Most corporate policies are available on the company’s website and are commonly repeated in the annual report.
In general, when writing a policy, you should keep in mind the size and specific needs of the organisation. Policies should be clear and concise – don’t include lengthy processes or procedures that will be difficult to maintain or comply with.
The structure for policy documents will vary from organisation to organisation, but some common elements include the following:
- Purpose statement – the context of the policy, why it is required
- Scope – the application of the policy (particular location, work group, )
- Procedure – how the policy is implemented
- Roles and responsibilities – who is responsible for the implementation of the policy
- Legislation – reference any legislation that the policy specifically complies with A sustainability policy should:
- Have a commitment to continuous environmental improvement
- Ensure the company complies with relevant environmental jaws
- Indicate that the company’s environmental objectives and targets are reviewed on a regular basis
- Provide adequate communication to staff and the public
- Come from the highest level in organisation
- Be available to the public
- Comply with relevant legislation
- Have a commitment to:
- Continual improvement
- Review of environmental objectives and targets
Existing quality and OHS policies also need to be reviewed or re-written to be integrated with environmental policies to ensure they capture sustainability objectives.
An organisation that has made a decision to develop an environmental sustainability policy (ESP) must start by identifying which parts of the organisation the policy will apply to. Is it intended for the whole organisation, one work area or project, or a combination of these?
Next, it must be determined whether the organisation will take an integrated approach to sustainability or focus on one particular aspect. An integrated approach may include social, environmental and corporate governance aspects. This Study Guide focuses on environmental aspects only.
The other issue to consider is how sustainability initiatives will be addressed. There are numerous approaches to implementing sustainability initiatives in the workplace.
The approach illustrated throughout this Study Guide uses ISO 14001 principles as the relevant Standard to develop and implement an environmental sustainability policy (ESP).
Gather information from a range of sources to plan and develop policy
The knowledge gained from conducting various types of research will help formulate appropriate policies and procedures; therefore it is important to gather information from a range of sources prior to developing an ESP.
ISO 14001:2004 and ISO 14004:2004
As a starting point, the Australian and New Zealand Standard ISO 14001:2004 and ISO 14004:2004 provide guidelines for developing and implementing an environmental management system. If you
haven’t already obtained copies of these Standards, now is the time to do so.
Two centuries of industrial development have made life better for many people in ways that have sometimes been unimaginable2. Increasing industrial activity also brings, however, increasing damage to the physical environmental systems and social fabric on which our wellbeing depends. As a leader of the future, you need to be able to lead a different kind of development, one which meets people’s needs without compromising our future. You need to take full account of the social, economic and environmental impacts of your decisions over the long term. Including sustainability in your business case can provide both opportunities and strategic direction in this important area.
A key role of sustainability champions is the development of company policy. Overseeing the implementation, review and evaluation of that policy is also essential. The whole process may be termed ‘strategic planning’.
The first step in the strategic planning process for sustainability or environmental improvement is the development of policy. Your sustainability policy may be an over-riding statement dealing with all aspects of environmental sustainability: waste reduction, water and energy conservation and related greenhouse gas reduction, working with your suppliers and customers in more sustainable ways. On the other hand, it may deal with just one of these aspects to begin with. The scope of the policy will be determined by criteria such as costs, time, business constraints and opportunities, all of which should be weighed up by key stakeholders.
Your policy may also take into account the ‘social’ aspects of the triple bottom line through the inclusion of corporate responsibility aims. Look at the ‘Fact sheet: Corporate social responsibility‘. A business policy should include the economic aspect of the triple bottom line.
The diagram illustrates how the different aspects of the triple bottom line intersect.
Figure 1: Different aspects of the triple bottom line
There are several reasons why a company benefits from the adoption of a formal, written sustainability policy:
- It establishes an overall sense of direction, enhancing your chances of
- It allows you to judge the performance of its strategy against an agreed set of
- Sustainability matters are more likely to be understood and accepted throughout a company if they have the support of senior management through policy processes. Formal policy ensures adequate resources are allocated to implementing
- It documents the responsibilities and account abilities for implementing sustainable practice throughout the
- It ensures sustainability measures are continued within the business regardless of whether sustainability ‘champions’ are involved or
- It provides a marketing tool to demonstrate your company’s commitment to sustainable development.
A policy can be made up of three main parts.
- The policy
- The implementation
- Various sub-plans and standard operating
These parts may be interpreted in the following way:
Laws and regulations
Organisations have to comply with various environmental laws, regulations, treaties and policies. The laws that apply to your organisation will be determined by identifying the environmental aspects and environmental impacts of its activities.
A good way to take account of any laws that may apply is to prepare a ‘Legal aspects register’ for your organisation.
Australian laws that address environmental issues are issued at a Commonwealth, State and local level.
The following are examples of Commonwealth legislation to protect the environment:
- Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980
- Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
- Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981
- Environmental Protection (Nuclear Codes) Act 1978
- Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975
- Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports Act) 1989
- Protection of the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983
- Road Transport Reform (Dangerous Goods) Act 1995
- Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982. Commonwealth laws apply throughout all Australian states and territories. Victorian State legislation that applies to business includes:
- The Environment Protection Act 1970
- Planning and Environment Act 1987
- Health Act 1958
- National Environment Protection Council (Victoria) Act
Local laws may vary in every area. You will need to check with the relevant Council in your area.
Subordinate legislation is law made by a body that has been delegated the power to create law by an Act of Parliament. It is used to implement the policies outlined in the primary legislation (or Act) and its powers cannot exceed those provided in the primary Act. Subordinate legislation under the Environment Protection Act 1970 includes:
- State environment protection policies (SEPPs):
- Air SEPPs
- Land and Groundwater SEPPs
- Noise SEPPs
- Waste SEPPs
- Water SEPPs
Waste management policies (WMPs):
- IWMP (Movement of Controlled Waste between States and Territories)
- IWMP (National Pollutant Inventory)
- IWMP (Prescribed Industrial Waste)
- IWMP (Protection of the Ozone Layer)
- IWMP (Waste Acid Sulfate Soils)
- Environment Protection (Distribution of Landfill Levy) Regulations 2002
- Environment Protection (Fees) Regulations 2001
- Environment Protection (Prescribed Wastes) Regulations 1998
- Environment Protection (Residential Noise) Regulations 1997
- Environment Protection (Scheduled Premises and Exemptions) Regulations 1996
- Environment Protection (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations 2003
- Pollution of Water by Oil and Noxious Substances Regulations
A generic environmental policy
A general environmental policy requires the company to:
- Comply with environmental law
- Commit to continuous improvement
- Develop an environmental management system
- Resource the environmental management system adequately
- Minimise pollution
- Ensure efficient production
- Facilitate communication
The first step in the planning process is the development of your policy. Your sustainability policy may be an over-arching statement that deal with all aspects of environmental sustainability including:
- Waste reduction
- Water conservation
- Energy conservation
- Greenhouse gas reduction
- Working with suppliers and customers in more sustainable ways Or it may just deal with one aspect. Initially the choice would be yours. The scope of the policy will be determined by things such as:
- Business constraints
All of which should be weighed up by the key stakeholders in your organisation. Your policy may also take into account the ‘social’ aspects of the triple bottom line through the inclusion of corporate responsibility aims. A business policy should include the economic aspect of the triple bottom line.
How does a company benefit from an environmental policy?
- There are several reasons why a company benefits from the adoption of a formal, written sustainability policy:
- It allows you to determine the performance of its strategy against an agreed set of objectives
- It ensures sustainability measures are ongoing in the business regardless of whether sustainability ‘champions’ are involved or not
- It establishes a sense of direction
- It highlights the responsibilities and accountabilities for implementing sustainable practice throughout the company
- It provides a marketing tool to show your company’s commitment to sustainable development
- Sustainability matters are more likely to be understood and accepted throughout a company if they have the support of senior management through policy processes
Writing the scope
The purpose of the Policy Scope Statement is to guide the development of a policy, provide a summary of a proposed policy, and ensure that those who might be affected by a policy are identified, considered, and consulted.
Scope – to who or what does the policy apply? For example: This policy applies to staff, students, contractors and visitors at EYF Training, sites and teaching, development and work areas where the business has operational control and movement to, from and between them.
This policy covers actions and activities that may impact on biodiversity, built environment, energy, carbon, environmental risk, purchasing, recycling and waste, transport and water.
Gathering information from a range of sources to plan and develop policy
Perhaps the first place to start in a management review to develop and implement sustainable policies is to review the vision and mission statements of the business. Sustainability policies typically encompass the triple bottom line of financial, social and environmental objectives. If there are existing quality and Workplace Health and Safety policies, then sustainability policies should be developed that allow integration of quality, safety and environmental policies.
Purchasing policies have significant influences on sustainability, determining what raw materials and resources are utilized in a business. Other significant policies will include:
- Waste management (also known as ‘resource recovery’)
- Integrated marketing communication policies (internal and external) that capture and communicate a business’s sustainability objectives
- Human resource management policies that link appraisals, remuneration and rewards to sustainability objectives
Identifying best practice models and initiatives
The best sustainability models for the business sector are industry specific systems that are promoted and supported by industry associations such as the Sustainable Green Print (SGP), the Australian printing industry’s own recognizable certification program designed to help printing companies meet their environmental responsibilities and go above and beyond compliance.
SGP is based on an IS014001 international standard. SGP is tailored to meet a printer’s business requirements, the demands of their customers and the changing trends in dealing with managing environmental responsibility. This multi-level system provides a choice of four linked achievement levels including ISO 14001 (Level 3 SGP) allowing printers to choose their participation and progress levels.
Generic sustainability models are supported by government agencies such as the EcoBiz program in Queensland.4
The Queensland Government provides a business sustainability roadmap. This is a strategy map which provides a contextual framework for businesses that are serious about taking up the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development.5
Most state and territory governments provide the same type of support for businesses and industries in their state or territory, but some use different names to support the same initiatives.
An internal audit is an important consideration in the information gathering stage.
An internal audit involves an evaluation of where your organisation is currently at in respect to its environmental performance. This is important because it sets a starting point from which the journey to improvement may begin. The current status of the organisation may be considered in relation to industry benchmarks or standards in order to understand where significant room for environmental improvement is required. The broad areas you need to consider are:
- the behaviour of staff and management in relation to sustainability – a useful tool is a simple survey of staff to determine their understanding of environmental issues, in particular those issues related to their activities in the workplace
- the amount of waste currently being produced by the organisation
- the products consumed by the organisation
- what is driving your organisation to improve its practices (i.e. why does your organisation need to improve?)
- what steps you are already taking to address sustainability
- what you would like to achieve 12 months, 2 years and 5 years from now
- who the main point of contact is in your business (i.e. who is driving the sustainability policy).
Sustainability Victoria has developed a set of guidelines and instructions for calculating resource usage in the workplace. Go to: http://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au
Conducting an internal audit
Types of questions that could be asked when auditing current environmental impacts:
Are there any spilt liquids, dripping taps, untidy chemical storage areas, leaking containers, noticeable spills, inappropriate recycling of materials (that is, contamination of recyclables with general waste) or other environment issues not being dealt with correctly?
When was the last integrity test on underground storage tanks? Are the test results OK? Are there any signs of leakage? Note the location and purpose of any underground storage tanks.
Are all bulk liquids stored outdoors within bounded areas so that materials cannot escape into the drainage system or waterways?
Are there any visible discharges to stormwater?
What are the main products used in each department or section (such as paper, ink, paint, timber, chemicals [list the chemicals], electricity, plastic, computers or water)?
What waste materials are generated (types, quantities and costs)? What materials are recycled (types, quantities and costs)?
Ensure that whoever is undertaking the assessment has access to all areas of the organisation that fall within the scope of the policy. Obtain permission if areas that need to be assessed are normally beyond the assessor’s area of responsibility. Obey any occupational health and safety requirements during the assessment.
In addition to the above, the internal review should also include a thorough assessment of your organisation’s readiness to develop an environmental sustainability plan. Therefore, the following also need to be assessed:
- corporate policies
- business plans
- corporate strategies
- corporate action plans
- purchasing practices
- tendering practices
- training programs
- operating procedures
- existing management systems, such as systems for quality assurance, OHS and risk management
- existing licences, works approvals, permits (including those associated with water and waste water or pollution control)
- industry standards
- evidence of legal
The assessor of these documents and systems needs to keep a close look-out for any possible linkages that will complement the proposed policy and any existing commitments, policies, systems or procedures that may already be in place that will benefit your ESP.
Following the internal audit, you will need to prepare a table that lists all environmental aspects and impacts of the organisation – these are sometimes referred to as ‘Environmental aspects and impacts registers’. Remember to list the beneficial impacts as well as the adverse impacts.
Table 1.1 shows an example of an environmental aspects and impacts register.
TABLE 1.1: Environmental aspects and impacts register
Research other systems
Further information can be gained by investigating what others are doing.
Researching other organisations’ environmental sustainability policies will help you gain an understanding of what is involved and what the outcomes might be. There is plenty of information available on the internet. A search using key words such as ‘environmental sustainability policies – Australia’ should deliver many results.
Environmental risk assessment
You will also need to conduct research to determine your organisation’s environmental risks.
Managing environmental risks is no different to other types of business risks. The risks must be identified, analysed, evaluated, managed, monitored and reviewed. If your organisation has a process in place for risk management, ensure that environmental risks are part of this process because they sometimes get overlooked when organisations assess their risks.
When you have completed an environmental risk assessment, the most significant environmental risks for your organisation will have been identified. These are the risks for which you must develop environmental objectives and targets. You can also develop objectives and targets for other areas, but it is important that you address all activities that pose significant risks to the organisation.
Sample risk assessment procedure
Your environmental aspects and impact register will form the basis for environmental risk assessment.
Environmental risks shall be reassessed following changes in activities as notified by management representatives and the annual review of the environmental management system.
Risk assessment is based on the following methodology. Frequency, severity and sensitivity of impacts are to be applied to determine the level of risk.
- Will never happen
- Is unlikely to occur
- Is likely to occur
- Will happen often
- Will always happen
- Insignificant: Not worth worrying about
- Minor: Consequences can be absorbed readily but management effort is still required to minimise its impact
- Severe: Significant event which can be managed under normal procedures
- Major: Critical event which, with proper management, will be endured
- Catastrophic: Disaster with potential to lead to collapse
- Extremely little public concern
- Local concern
- Immediate broad concern; media event
Significance (risk rating) is to be calculated in the following manner: Risk exposure = Frequency x (Severity + Sensitivity).
The risk scale varies between 2 and 50:
- Activities with a risk assessment of 40 or above are deemed to be high
- Activities with a risk assessment of between 20 and 39 are deemed to be medium
- Activities with a risk assessment of 0 and 19 are deemed to be low
A Victorian organisation that received numerous warnings from the Environment Protection Authority and had been fined for breaching an EPA licence and causing pollution eventually took action to address its environmental risks. The process involved the environment officer working
with the risk Management consultant to ensure that environmental risks were firstly identified in the risk management process. A risk assessment was then undertaken to measure each environmental
risk against criteria such as likelihood, consequence, level of risk, impact in dollar terms and impact on people.
The communication of these risks to relevant staff and the development of processes to manage the risks resulted in improved management of factors that could lead to environmental incidents. Staff were encouraged to not only identify the risks, but to better manage their work-related activities to minimize the possibility of incidents occurring. Procedures were put in place and the most severe risks were controlled. The result was that the EPA was satisfied that action was being taken to
ensure that no further incidents of pollution occurred.
Develop workplace sustainability policy
Introduction to sustainability champions Mei
Mei, here. You are now going to meet five managers, I prefer to call them sustainability champions. They work in a number of different manufacturing industries and locations. I’ll let them do the introductions.
My name is Michael Gabadou, I’m the Operations Director here at Interface FLOR in Picton close to Sydney. We’re part of a global company which is based in the US but has factories around the US and Europe, Asia and Australia as well as a presence in South America. Our product is actually manufacturing carpet tiles which is carpet with a backing cut into 50 x 50 centimeter squares which allows you to have the flexibility of design etc. That’s the product that is mainly used in corporate offices, a lot in schools as well, libraries, and now more and more into healthcare and aged care, and right through the commercial market basically.
I’m in charge of Operations. So that goes from taking orders, the customer service part of the business, planning and purchasing all the materials, planning the production, making the product, all the warehousing side of the business, and delivery back to the customers as well so it’s the overall loop as well as other services like quality, technical product development, etc.
Trish Keran. I’m the Sustainability Manager at Australian Vinyls Corporation. It is Australia’s only PVC manufacturing facility, located in Laverton North in Victoria. As sustainability manager, I head up a department that is focused on not only the health safety and environment, but also the product quality, management systems for the entire business – so it’s taking a very broad view of sustainability for it to not just be environment, sustainability in our business is not only about environment, it’s about the whole triple bottom line aspect of it, so that includes community engagement as well.
My name is Michael Grout. I work at Australian Vinyls. I’m the Training Manager here.
This plant has been here for just over 30 years and makes PVC resin, which is the base resin in PVC
plastic. We are taking a raw material, vinyl chloride monomer, which is derived 50% from oil and 50% from chlorine from salt, and that vinyl chloride monomer is converted by us into this PVC resin.
My name is Peter Sylvester, I am the OHSE Risk Manager at OI Sydney.
Explanation of OH and C is Occupational Health Safety Environment and I’m also responsible for risk management, loss prevention, workers’ comp and the site energy champion.
We are a manufacturer of glass containers. We tend to sell to third parties not into the marketplace and our major customers are the major breweries and suppliers of glassware like Lion Nathan, South African Brewing, Heineken, Heinz and any other people who use glassware.
We are the biggest glass manufacturer in the world and responsible for 54% of the world’s glass production. So have a look at the bottle, if you see OI, it’s us.
I sit on the management team here, senior management team, reporting to the plant manager. I also have dotted line reports to corporate in Melbourne for safety in the environment, sustainability and accountability overseas also.
My name is Tania Beaver. I work for a company called Thales Australia.
We manufacture Australian Defence Forces small arms. Four main different types of rifles. At the moment it’s mainly only through life support, which is refurbishment of all of the Australian Defence Forces rifles. We make everything that belongs on those rifles except for the plastic components.
At work I’m the Health Safety Environment Manager, so I’m responsible for all the staff health, all the safety systems, and all the environmental management systems on site.
Case study: Develop workplace sustainability policy
Ciao again peoples. Now we’re going to hear from a diverse group of sustainability champions who are taking their factories through the sustainability process. Trish is very much on the front foot by making things happen.
One of the things we recognised a long time ago was that sustainability was an important part of our business. That was recognised at the highest leadership level of our business. We are a member of the Plastics and Chemicals Industry Association and they also recognise that sustainability was important. So they started to draw together a group of people to try and develop their sustainability framework that they wanted to roll out as an industry association.
The way that we worked on looking at the sustainability policies for the business was the General Manager of Health Safety Environment and HR and I, along with the Environment Manager, worked together, looking at that framework and seeing how we could actually embed it in our business – in particular to make sure that we didn’t draft or adopt a framework that wasn’t add-on, because we
recognized that if we go back to the business and give them an add-on, we’re not actually going to
get the business to embrace it, because it’s something else that they need to do.
So we looked at how we can actually embed it into a business model within the business. So the business has a business model that we work to, and we’ve looked at all the aspects of that business model, and then mapped them across to the sustainability aspect, so that we can just pick up the little things that we need to do, here or there, to really fully embed, what would be a truly sustainable model into the business.
Michael, at Interface FLOR works for one of the most progressive businesses in the world.
The sustainability policy, as I mentioned, came very much from the top – that ‘spear in the chest’ from our founder and that’s what basically since 1995 has been driving our policy right through the group. So we all live by the same policy. It has been turned into what we call Mission Zero which is basically having an objective that by 2020 we’ll have no impact on the environment.
I remind you that when we started in 1995 we were a company that was basically taking 100% of its material out of the oil well and basically the objective was that within 25 years to turn into an organisation that has no impact on the environment. So we’re well underway on that journey.
The principles that we use basically are articulated around what we call The Seven Fronts – so seven approaches that we need to take to make sure that we achieve our objective. So it’s not just about how greenhouse gas affects the environment, it’s about looking at our materials, our emissions, renewable energy, closing the loop, which means what do we do with waste after we’ve used it, transportation – how do we optimize our transportation. Also other issues like dealing with all the stakeholders – internals like shareholders, employees, etc – and externals like our suppliers, our customers as well as other companies in the market. The last front, which for us is a very important one as well, is called Redesign Commerce, which is about spreading the word about what we do and trying to influence other companies, either in our industry or in other industries, to go on that journey of sustainability as well.
The scope of the policy is Australia-wide for all of Thales. The way that we work is that I report to a National Health Environment Safety officer – they developed and drafted up a policy that then is distributed down to all of the sites, and my responsibility then to make sure that it covers all of our site, and that it’s applicable and relevant to what we do on our site as well.
Peter’s glass manufacturing plant in Penrith, NSW, is also a multi-national business trying to do the right thing environmentally. Peter has been involved with this process in a very hands-on way.
Traditionally we used to talk about safety, environment and loss prevention, separately, and sustainability was something else. A number of years ago I was able to convince the business that we needed to develop a risk department and embrace sustainability. What we basically did then was my equivalents and senior people in Melbourne sat down and wrote a sustainability policy that covered from lifecycle assessments of glass, through to energy, through to emissions, through to lean manufacturing – all the basic tenets that go to running a sustainable enterprise. Additionally we also identified the need for us to be best in class and to be world leaders in this area. It is a very competitive market, but more importantly there is an expectation within the marketplace that we will achieve this.
It also takes into account ISO 14001 and AS 4801, IS 9001 all those tenets. IS 14001 is environmental management systems, AS 4801 is safety management systems, IS 9001 is quality management systems.
So, you’ve decided you want a business to be greener – how do these environmental policies get formulated? As a manager – who do you consult? Michael, like Trish, works in management at Australian Vinyls – the PVC plant.
For some years now at Australian Vinyls, we have been conscientiously working towards more sustainable manufacture, and certainly over the last ten years, we’ve involved all the people in our business at different times, in generating ideas for how we can do better in terms of our energy use, gas use, our water use, and also any waste that we have in our processes. So in that time, we have probably every three years used a process to bring people together from across the operation to have a look at what our current usage is of electricity, gas, water and materials, and to come up with some ideas for how we can do better in each of those areas. So we use a process of brainstorming, where we ask people just to come up with suggestions for how we might improve, for example, our water use. We would list up on a whiteboard all the ideas that the group has, and then as a group we look at each of the ideas and weigh up whether we think any of them are viable propositions to put forward to the business as a potential project for improvement. Over the years, some of these ideas have got up and some of them it’s been decided are not cost justified, or aren’t going to be workable solutions.
At Thales – a small arms manufacturer in Lithgow – Tania uses the Health Safety and Environment committee to consult people. I’ll give her permission to call them stakeholders.
We consulted both internal and external stakeholders – all employees on site were consulted, we have an HSE committee which meets once a month on the site and that has a representative from each of our designated work areas. Those people took the policy and then took it to the people in their work areas, for comment, which was then fed back to me for me to then feed that to our national HSE group.
HSE stands for Health Safety and Environment.
The external stakeholders we consulted were local government, our local council, because we have quite a lot to do with them from trade waste and development processes.
We also consulted National Parks as well, because we’ve got an endangered species, the Bathurst Coppering Butterfly on our site. So as part of our environmental management system and our
sustainability policy, we need to consider that we have got to look after that species as well.
Peter at OI Glass, knows that consultation is key to the whole sustainability thing working.
The process initially was my equivalent and corporate, but then the policies were brought back to each plant, reviewed by management to the shop floor, through the environment committees, through the various committees that operate within the site, seeking feedback. Getting the words right, so that the words are understood and clear, that was then submitted to the president and then signed off on, buy in at all levels, and at the same time we introduced an environmental awareness program on the site which introduced everybody on this site to the term ‘sustainability’, a handbook was issued to everybody, and attendance by all staff and shop floor. Very well received, very positive feedback and some very good recommendations from the shop floor for projects moving forward.
And after consultation – how do you go about choosing between the various options for improving sustainability?
We have a process at Australian Vinyls for weighing up the ideas for improving our business. We do factor in and put a value on safety, health and environment returns. In the end you’re making financial decisions on a lot of these ideas. There’s a cost in making the change, and so you need to look at the payback. Generally if you’re not getting payback within two or three years, that idea has to be shelved for the time being. Sometimes you find that as technology improves, that idea if it comes back again, may well have a different payback assessment, but even with something like the water recycling plant, the payback there was not very good just from a business perspective, and that project would only get up, because there was government grant money helping the business make that decision to go ahead with the recycling plant. In the end the business will only be here tomorrow and next year, if we’re making the decisions based on some fairly hard realities. If you don’t make more money than it costs to run your business, you’re not going to stay in business very long.
Thales Australia is guided by our overall French company – we are owned by a French company – so coming down from France, we’ve got several different strategies that we absolutely have to deliver on site – so taking those strategies, we then put minor project plans into place to support those strategies, so Thales France expects us to have a 10% reduction in waste, water and energy use over three years – so our strategies have to support these international goals.
Then strategies and ideas are shared across the HSE network across Australia, we get together once a month and have a chat about what everyone is doing on each site, and then discuss those ideas and then put together whatever is relevant for our site as well. Our 14001 environmental management system also guides what strategies are considered.
All these very different businesses have to look at how much their sustainability policies are going to cost and how long they are going to take.
What we tried to look at with the water recycling plant, was one of the things that was very important to us, is we didn’t want to create, build a water recycling plant, that was actually going to emit an enormous amount more carbon, which was actually going to use an enormous amount more water, at the power station to generate the power – so we spent a lot of time looking at what sort of energy use we would need for the particular plant that we were building, and some of our material selections and equipment selections were also made based on exactly what the energy efficiency was of certain items. So that process took a lot of years to actually get up as a project, because it was a very expensive project to do – it didn’t have the financial payback associated with it that would have been acceptable to a business – but working through that process, we were actually able to secure some funding from the state government of Victoria, and they contributed $1.8 million to the project. The project cost in the end $5.5 million – so our overall cost to that project, put its payback at somewhere around the five years.
It started in 1995, basically has a target goal of 2020 to achieve its Mission Zero level. I’m not sure we can talk about costs – it’s not something we said to implement this policy we need to put a certain amount aside. The contrary actually was found, as we looked more and more into sustainability we found that we could remove a lot of waste out of the business, improve substantially the energy use, the material used, etc, and actually going onto the sustainability path gave us a lot of cost benefits, cost reduction. You hear a lot about going to sustainability is going to cost but actually so often we’ve found that going through and changing from one material to another material which was better in regards to its impact on the environment actually brought us cost benefit, or looking at how we use a material and the amount of material we use has given us a potential benefit.
To offset any perceived negatives to do with cost – you have to prove that your policy is good for business. Trish calls it ‘triple bottom line’. Sounds good to me.
Triple bottom line is basically looking at a project or an activity within a business and taking into account not only its environmental impact, but also its economic impact and any societal benefits that we can actually get out of it as well. So in terms of looking at triple bottom line for what we do, some of our societal benefits we see – for example are looking at working with programs within the local high school offering work experience to students from the local high school, and recently we had the students come in to actually do a rainwater study on our site, to look at rainwater tanks, how much water we would capture, those sorts of things – so they learned about doing those sorts of calculations in the real world, and we also got some benefit of seeing the plan that they were able to develop for us.
All manufacturers have to be profitable, otherwise they just won’t function. So environmental
policies have to be sustainable – financially. InterfaceFLOR goes to great lengths to make monetary and environmental elements co-exist within their business.
It gave us a lot of cost benefit, as mentioned, in regards to energy and material reduction and efficiencies etc. At the same time we went on to lean. So the two are very much in parallel. We even developed the concept we call SMILE – Sustainability Mission in a Lean Environment – where basically the two concepts of lean and sustainability work together because they look at the same process, the same methodology for the same objective – doing things better with continuous improvement.
At the other end where we also got benefits was that we were able to get better engagement from our employees. It’s always very hard to convince employees to go down the road of efficiency improvement and labour productivity etc when potentially there could be redundancies etc – when you talk to them about reducing waste and doing things better for the environment, that rings a bell in their mind, they know that this is the right thing as well, so you get much better engagement on those projects as well.
At Thales, Tania also talked the whole thing through with staff.
By pointing out to employees that it had a positive benefit, both to them and to the organisation and on the environment and also on the community that surrounds us, because our factory is set within a residential area, we’ve got schools nearby, got community nearby and a lot of people who live nearby work at the factory and don’t want environmental pollution in their backyard kind of thing – so we gave it a positive spin and tried to talk to employees about what the benefits were of this policy going into place.
Peter at OI Glass, used a variety of methods to get the message to staff – but he wanted this message to be clear.
Selling it internally, the challenge was to get credibility with it. It just wasn’t going to be a bunch of words. To do that we had to have the targets in place, but we needed to show our people that it was working, and what we were achieving out of it. Our noticeboards, our intranet and internet site have the data posted there in terms of our performance.
With OI, any time you go to inflict anything on the business you will fail. The aim by engaging stakeholders at all levels was that that there was an expectation at the end of the day that there would be a program in place that everybody could be involved in. Then opening the committees up at all levels for shop floor participation, no hidden agendas; both positive and negative feedback; implementing simple things, as environmental employee of the month – recognising our performance.
So there you go peoples – you have to let your staff know about these policies and understand them. You want them to be on side when you implement them. It’s common sense really.
Identify and consult stakeholders as a key component of the policy development process
Stakeholder engagement and/or participatory practice is increasingly becoming a part of mainstream business practice and central to public policy decision-making and delivery.
It is being used as a means to improve communications, obtain wider community support or buy-in for projects, gather useful data and ideas, enhance public sector or corporate reputation, and provide for more sustainable decision-making.
Stakeholder engagement should be central to any “sustainable development” agenda. Without consultation with stakeholders, there can be no, ownership or support for a particular project. A project is more likely to succeed, if it takes into consideration the environment in which it operates and attempts to meet the needs of the stakeholders or groups affected by it.
“Stakeholder engagement could be viewed as a form of risk management. Many projects, but not necessarily all, will need to engage with a wide range of stakeholder groups, each with their own concerns, needs, conflicts of interest and levels of influence. In order for the pieces of the project plan to be effective, planners and project managers need to understand who the stakeholder groups are, what their issues are, and what motivates them”.
“Stakeholders may be existing or potential customers or end-users of the product, employees, suppliers, shareholders, or those that define policies or have financial leverage. Those responsible for undertaking public participation often categorise stakeholders into ‘groups’ based on a number of factors including geographic boundaries or location, recognised bodies or institutions, income groups, land ownership or occupation, legal requirements, and real or perceived views of the issue under dispute. The nature of this classification means that these stakeholder groups are usually not homogenous entities. It is more likely in fact, that an identified “stakeholder group” will comprise a diverse mix of individuals, who may – or may not – identify themselves with the particular “stakeholder group” into which they have been categorised. This is an important issue to take into consideration when identifying who your stakeholders are. Stakeholder identification is a critical component of the initial scoping phase and should occur before the engagement plan is formulated and consultations begin”.
Levels of Participation
Before any expensive and lengthy engagement process is begun, it is important to have a good understanding, and indeed consider what level of participation is actually being sought. Public participation can be broadly categorised into the following:
|LEVELS OF PUBLIC PARTICIPATION GOALS|
|Inform||To provide the public with balanced and objective information to assist them in understanding the problem, alternatives,
opportunities and/or solutions.
|Consult||To obtain public feedback for decision-makers on analysis, alternatives and/or decisions.|
|Involve||To work directly with the public throughout the process to ensure that public concerns and aspirations are consistently understood and
considered in decision making processes.
|Collaborate||To partner with the public in each aspect of the decision including the development of alternatives and the identification of the
|Empower||To place final decision-making in the hands of the public.|
A full stakeholder engagement process, would at a minimum, seek “involvement” from the public/stakeholder groups in which it operates, and depending on the agreed purpose of the project, may seek to transfer full ‘empowerment’ to the public in terms of final decision-making responsibilities. 6
Many barriers to change are people issues rather than technical ones.
Good, workable ESPs are achieved through consultation with the people who will be responsible for delivering them. Not only will these people have ownership of the ESP if they have been actively involved in its development, they are more likely to try to achieve the ESP objectives because they set them in the first place.
A system imposed from the top is likely to encounter resistance from all areas of the organisation, whereas a system encouraged and supported from the top, but which actively seeks participation, will have a much greater chance of succeeding.
During the early stage of the development of an environmental sustainability policy all stakeholders should be identified. Stakeholders may include:
- employees at all levels of the organisation
- government and semi-government agencies
- local community
Gaining senior management support is particularly important, as this can ensure the appropriate time and resources are allocated to the ESP.
Including appropriate strategies in policy at all stages of work for minimising resource use, reducing toxic material and hazardous chemical use, and employing life cycle management approaches
If it’s your business, it’s your waste and it’s your money!
One way of assessing your current environmental performance is to conduct a waste assessment. A waste assessment will help you to better understand where your efforts will gain most value.
What is the purpose of a waste assessment?
The main aims of a waste assessment are to:
- Identify each waste stream on or leaving the site
- Quantify and characterise each waste stream to establish benchmark data
- Establish how and why each waste stream is generated
- Calculate costs incurred with treatment, storage, handling and disposal of wastes, including quantifying associated labour, energy, water and lost raw material costs where possible
- Determine liabilities associated with waste generation
- Identify options for more efficient and effective waste management (for example identify reduction/diversion opportunities)
The following are the key tasks involved in a waste assessment:
- Select waste assessment team — this should include at least one company employee
- Determine audit scope — this depends on size of assessment required and parameters set
- Collect available data
- Identify and characterise waste streams
- Evaluate data
- Identify and prioritise options
- Prepare a report and plan of action
There are three main stages involved in a waste assessment. These are:
- Preliminary assessment – aims to identify major environmental issues, major opportunities for improvement and major economic issues
- Detailed study and improvement plan – aims to find the best options for minimization in the site
- Monitoring and review – aims to monitor and confirm the indicators and targets previously established
Waste involves the manufacture and discharge or disposal of things that cannot be sold at a profit. The cost of waste management and disposal is almost always much less than the value untrained in the waste. By finding the lost dollars, you will identify the waste reduction and profit increasing opportunities.
By improving your purchasing, your resource use and waste output will be reduced. Buying recycled materials can reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. Improve purchasing to…
- Reduce waste production:
- Do not over order raw materials. This can be avoided by matching package sizes to batch quantities
- Explore the amount of waste generated by alternative raw materials
- Set environmental standards for your suppliers, their products and services, and request substantiation of their claims – There should be no premium for this
- Check for damaged or tainted goods upon receiving
- Implement exchange programs with suppliers e.g. Empty drums for full ones
- Reward waste minimization:
- Purchase recycled materials where viable
- Choose “long life” products where possible. Reusable or recyclable goods or those with minimal packaging may be a preferable option
- Consider service contracts. Which are the most “environmentally friendly?”
- Ask your supplier to help you reduce chemical usage, and share the savings
- Produce efficiency benchmarks for the use of raw materials with the help of your suppliers
- Avoid buying new products or services, which will increase the risk to your business
- Make recommendations for policy options based on likely effectiveness, time frames and cost
Improvements can be made to:
- Minimize storage where possible. Reduced stock holdings save money
- Keep all storage clean, well labelled and uncluttered
- Ensure stored materials are kept away from contamination and water damage
- Ensure storage tanks do not leak
- Store all materials and wastes in separate clearly designated areas
- Store hazardous materials undercover and on a sealed surface
- Keep storage areas well ventilated
- Ensure chemicals are kept separately so they cannot react with one another
- Ensure that your store always operates on a ’first in, first out’ basis, so that old materials and packages do not accumulate in your store
- Check expiry dates for materials
- Use drum pumps and/or filters to completely drain drums, and thoroughly rinse them before their return to the supplier
- Avoid keeping unnecessary empty containers
- Establish housekeeping procedures and make sure they are maintained
- Promote activities that improve time efficiency
- Minimize waste
- Only stockpile wastes if this enables more cost effective recycling
- Avoid accumulation of unnecessary items
- Monitor waste production of all employees, so they are accountable for their own area
- Make sure your staff are aware of how to dispose of waste appropriately
- Compare your procedures with other organisations in the sane industry
- Spill response
- Keep spill kits readily accessible in your chemicals storage area
- Ensure spills are cleaned immediately with a spill kit, and recycled or disposed of correctly
- Workplace safety and efficiency can be improved through proper store management
Reducing energy consumption can save money and reduce greenhouse gases caused by burning fossil fuels. Improvements can be made in the workplace by:
- Turning off lights and equipment not being used
- Using energy efficient office equipment and power saving functions
- Use energy saving lighting products where possible e.g. fluorescent tubes,(this will in turn reduce air conditioning loads)
- Skylights will reduce the need for artificial lighting during daylight hours
- Minimise expenditure on space A 1 °C increase above 20 °C, can increase can cost by as much as 20%
- Minimise energy waste by using insulation
- Use self-closing doors where possible to limit internal temperature changes
- Use hot water only when necessary
- In the process
- Improve insulation of all hot process items and steam lines to minimise simple heat loss
- Improve insulation on refrigerant cooling lines
- Avoid steam leaks. A 1 kg/min steam leak costs about $1/hour and $2/hour in an air-conditioned space
- Require suppliers to quote the energy consumption and costs of a new piece of equipment
- When choosing energy sources
- Investigate alternative energy sources such as solar hot water, waste, bio-ethanol and wind energy
- Use a clean fuel such as LPG or methanol
- Use fuels with the least greenhouse impact
“Don’t spend money like water, spend water like money. The way you use it or waste it, water is in your hands. To save water you need to:
- Determine the minimum volume of water you need – Compare your performance to others and make improvements where possible
- Ensure taps and pipes are not dripping or leaking
- Install water saving accessories around your business, contact your local water authority for ideas
- Compare water usage on volume per unit production, not per unit time (for example, use litres/bottle of soda, not litres/minute)
- Avoid using water wherever possible — use a dry technique such as a broom, vacuum cleaner or compressed air jet
- Use a dry method as a materials conveyor instead of water
- Use counter flow rinsing with as many rinse stages as possible, as most contaminants are removed in the first rinse
- Minimise contaminant ‘drag out’ to additional rinse stages by optimising your counter flow rinse system
- Determine the cheapest way to treat wastewater – It may be more profitable to treat the water for reuse rather than disposal
- Investigate the possibility of rainwater harvesting for use as boiler feed or cooling tower makeup. This can be a cost effective way of reducing water related costs such as reducing the size of drainage systems in new structures
- Account for all losses involved in the disposal of water. Heat, chemicals, labour and plant capacity may also be thrown away
- Consider using wastewater for lower grade uses where water quality does not have to be so high (check, however, that it does not compromise product quality)”
Segregated waste can often be recycled and may be a valuable product for another business remember the 3 R’s:
- Measure the amount of waste you produce – Waste is the difference between the materials you pay for and the materials your customer pays for
- Account for the difference between the tonnage of raw materials and the tonnage of products you produce
- This will allow you to identify reduction opportunities
- Determine which processing steps produce the most wastes and devise measures for waste prevention or reduction
- Calculate the theoretical minimum waste production from your processes. You should aim to keep within 10 per cent of this figure
- Devise ways of reducing your waste with your employees and suppliers, and possibly provide incentives for waste reduction
- Remember, your waste management contractor is a key supplier for assisting with waste minimisation. Ask contractors how they may assist in streamlining your waste management process
- Quantify changes in waste production so improvements are measureable – Make sure you include internal wastes such as rework and recycle streams
- Reuse drums and containers and other recyclable items where possible – employ exchange systems where possible
- Identify ways of reusing materials in the process at different stages, for example recirculating cooling water
- Identify possible ways of selling your waste to other organisations for their production processes – This information can be found through the sustainability organisation relevant to your state (e.g. Sustainability Victoria)
- Separate waste products where possible — this assists the recycling process and provides an indication of why waste is forming
- Investigate alternative uses for organic waste that cannot be reduced or reused, for example compost or convert the waste to energy
- Identify recyclers or waste disposal contractors and organise regular collections
- Join with neighbouring businesses to get common wastes recycled cost effectively and talk to your waste contractor about cost off-sets by efficient serving of the area
Less waste = less pollution = less effort = less cost
The principle objectives of your ESP may be to minimise environmental impacts, reduce toxic material and hazardous chemical use and employ life cycle management approaches.
When developing strategies to achieve these objectives, there are several approaches an organisation can take. Two of these are:
- Negative screening. Negative screening refers to an approach that avoids the use of certain products and services, which are known to be harmful to the environment. Negative screening may also include adjusting existing processes and/or procedures in an attempt to reduce natural resource consumption.
- Negative screening is a passive approach to sustainability, which can be relatively cost effective to implement because there are no significant outlays required.
- Positive screening. Positive screening represents an active approach to sustainability, where organisations seek out suppliers, partners, products and services that demonstrate best practice in environmental performance. Positive screening may also include the purchase of new equipment to reduce an organisation’s environmental impacts e.g. installing grey water treatment systems, rainwater tanks, energy efficient light bulbs, and solar panels. Positive screening approaches are generally more visible, but may involve significant
Positive and negative screening Hidden Valley Cabins – Queensland
When diesel prices began to escalate and the business owners became aware of the impact of carbon emissions on climate change, they asked themselves two questions: Can we afford to use diesel, and what effect are we having on our environment?
Both answers were very negative, so they decided that it was best for the business and the environment to look at other alternatives to diesel and the use of generators throughout the property.
They started by investigating where they were using energy including lighting, refrigeration and made small changes like switching off appliances and lights overnight around the property, changing light bulbs and changing their food menus.
They then followed this up with an in-depth look at how much energy they were using in the resort and what emissions they were contributing into the environment. The first step was to record their energy use. This was undertaken for four months to ensure there was good base information to cover all the different scenarios of the business.
Choosing the right solar power system was also important, so time was spent researching the options and assessing available government rebates. After 18 months of researching and decision
making as to which solar power system to purchase, construction was completed in just 10 days. Other activities considered to support the environment were:
- vegetation and plants lost due to construction have been replaced and areas re-vegetated
- minimizing waste by composting food and paper products for use in the garden
- educating guests and the public on the importance of protecting wildlife
- building low impact walking tracks
- recycling all aluminium cans
- continuing to plant native trees and vegetation
- building with local
Hidden Valley Cabins is now saving 78 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year along with an estimated
$45, 000 per year in diesel fuel. Calculating this over a 20 year period and a minimum 5% increase per year in the price of diesel, this equates to $1.2 million in savings. The choice to go ‘green’ has also helped to offset a lot of their other business expenses.
The success with the implementation of solar power has encouraged them to continue making improvements. After commissioning a formal audit they identified and purchased enough carbon credits for the property to be recognised as carbon neutral.
They followed this with a comprehensive review by Ecotourism Australia. Hidden Valley Cabins were awarded Advanced Ecotourism certification.
(Source: Tourism Queensland, September 2009)
Life cycle management
Life cycle management uses a process called life cycle assessment (LCA) to assess the environmental impacts associated with a product, process or service throughout its life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials through to processing, transport, use, reuse, recycling or disposal. For each of these stages, the impact is measured in terms of resources used and environmental impacts caused. Life cycle assessment is a cradle-to-grave analysis of a product or service. LCA can help a business identify the most effective improvement than can be made in terms of environmental impacts and use of resources.
Life cycle assessment is one of five emerging international standards within the ISO 14000 series. LCA is used by government and industry decision-makers for benchmarking the environmental performance of products and processes.
The benefits of life cycle assessment include:
- identification of the most efficient and cost-effective options
- improvement to overall environmental performance
- elimination of wasted resources and pollution
- creation of environmentally sound products
- assessment of an organisation’s operations and production processes to identify opportunities for improvement
- assessment of economic costs of production of products and
A comprehensive LCA is unlikely to be relevant or indeed possible for smaller organisations. However, it is still possible to reap the benefits by adopting a ‘life cycle’ approach. The LCA process can be streamlined, with a company examining only those parts or operations that have the most impact or potential for improvement. This can maximize the benefits and minimise the cost of LCA.
Make recommendations for policy options based on likely effectiveness, time frames and cost Likely effectiveness
The success of an ESP largely depends on the people and resources available, so identifying resources is a critical step in making policy recommendations. Therefore, you will need to consider:
- who and what is already available
- the people, materials, equipment and resources needed to implement policies
- any materials and skills that are missing from the resources
If there are any resource gaps, you will need to decide if external expertise needs to be brought in or train existing staff (there are many courses available to assist in providing staff with the required skills; the organisation may also have people who can provide in-house training).
The success of your ESP will be fundamentally affected by the time needed versus the time available. Two useful project management tools are the Gantt chart and the PERT diagram. Free templates are available from Microsoft Office online, which may be adapted to suit your purposes: http://office.microsoft.com
When developing policy options, you will also need to have a thorough understanding of how much any actions you are proposing will cost. Some environmental initiatives will require financing, therefore, a budget will need to be associated with the ESP. Budget items to consider will include staff, joining fees, meters (such as electricity or water meters) for data collection, laboratory analysis or tests, audit fees, training fees, marketing and promoting, and perhaps computer software to manage information.
Calculating the ‘payback’ of the initial investment is another way to investigate costs. Many organisations only budget for a 12-month period and you should demonstrate that spending money will achieve worthwhile results and potentially result in long-term savings.
Baseline budgets should be established early in the process to ensure accurate figures for future savings. This provides for a baseline to determine the difference between actual costs and the budget. It is important to first identify savings and payback periods then prioritise potential projects. The environmental savings should be translated into monetary savings.
How to calculate payback
If recommending that an organisation replaces incandescent light globes with energy efficient globes, you need to calculate the savings in all areas.
The following examples show basic calculations that haven’t taken into account all savings.
Purchase and installation of two skylights $1200
Electricity saved per annul $200
Payback period = 6 years
All costs ÷ annual savings = payback period Cost
Purchase and installation of water saving devices $250
Less water and electricity to heat water 70
Payback period 3.57 years
Information you need to perform an accurate payback calculation:
- Purchase price
- Installation costs
- Maintenance costs – difference between old and new option
- Training costs
- Current cost of energy/fuel/water/paper/disposal
- Savings anticipated by the new equipment or work procedure, that is, reduced landfill charges, reduced costs for chemicals and reduced staff time
- Costs incurred – increased staff time, increased maintenance, training and increased operating costs
Developing policy that reflects the organisation’s commitment to sustainability as an integral part of business planning and as a business opportunity
Once you have consulted stakeholders, developed a plan, and gained acceptance you can begin to develop the policy that will guide any further actions in the business. If recycling is your main focus you can write up the policy and procedures for your team. The steps below may help you:
Step 1: Identify Target Materials
Spend some time to look around your facility to evaluate what thrown away and unused materials are being generated, and in what quantities. Materials generated in the highest volumes are your target materials. Your waste reduction and recycling program should be built around these materials.
Not only is it important to determine where waste materials are generated in a business, but also how they are generated (this helps to create waste reduction activities). Having a copy of the floor plan may be helpful to note your discoveries. This information will be used for Step 2: Designing the Program.
This activity need not be a technical or complex task. Listed below are commonly found target materials for different categories of organisations such as:
- Drink containers
- Food waste
- Coffee grounds
- Food wrappings Kitchen area:
- Food scraps
- Food wrap
Step 2: Designing the Program
Effective recycling and waste reduction may include; collection, storage, service, education, company policies, purchasing and reduction.
Once the target materials have been identified, it’s then possible to locate the proper type of recycling collection bins and where collected materials should be stored. This information will also assist with the selection of an appropriate selection of provider or service method.
Depending upon the size of the operation or business and the relative quantity of waste generated the method of waste disposal, and the frequency with which it is performed may vary. Larger organisations may opt to employ a recycling process working in conjunction with their contractor, whilst smaller companies might organise to dispose of their recyclable goods by carting them directly to a drop-off station. The frequency of collection or drop-off will be determined by the quantity of waste generated.
The success of any waste reduction and recycling program, will be largely affected by communicating with your employees. Some ways to educate employees include:
- A recycling bulletin board
- New employee orientation
- Monthly e-mail updates
Establish a policy regarding the organisations commitment to waste reduction and recycling. Doing so will set waste reduction and recycling goals and help to obtain top management support.
Make a practice of purchasing recycled content products where possible. Reduction:
Reducing the overall quantity of generated waste is the best way to decrease your contribution to landfill. Double-sided printing, printing draft documents on used one-sided paper, reusable cups for meeting, using electronic communication tools instead of print materials and redesigning business and production processes to eliminate the volume of waste, are methods which can be employed to minimize landfill.
An organisation may have a range of complementary management tools to integrate with its ESP, such as:
- risk management programs
- asset management programs
- occupational health and safety
- process mapping
- service charters
- human resource systems and processes
- performance indicators
- business plans
- strategic plans
- contract management
- quality assurance.
An ESP can, and should be, incorporated into existing management tools to ensure a holistic approach is developed and delivered. Integration also reduces:
- the time required for staff to complete documentation
- the time required for internal and external auditing
- frustration and wasted time during the development, delivery and review of processes and systems
- the likelihood of important aspects being overlooked
- the cost of developing and delivering the
Many existing systems will incorporate components relating to environmental impact. Take, for instance, the area of human resources. When position descriptions and induction programs are prepared, it is important to ensure they take account of environmental responsibilities associated with the tasks the person is required to deliver. During induction programs, new staff should be introduced to the corporate philosophy of environmental care and responsibility and the ESP should be explained. Occupational health and safety must be directly linked with the ESP because many OHS issues can have environmental impacts. One of the most obvious is the handling, storage and disposal of chemicals. Incorrect handling of chemicals is likely to cause potential impacts on humans and the environment and breach both OHS legislation and environmental legislation.
If the environmental sustainability system is not integrated throughout the organisation, it will not be effective.
Agree to appropriate methods of implementation
The development of an ESP needs to be followed by consideration of the most appropriate methods of implementation, to ensure that the strategies are delivered.
These methods are sometimes referred to as action plans. A template for developing an action plan is available on the Management Resource Centre CD-ROM. You may also download this template from the following location:
An ‘Environmental action plan’ sets out how the strategies are going to be delivered.
The programs must set down the personnel responsible for delivering the targets, timeframes and any resources required to deliver the objectives.
Other issues that should be covered include design, planning, construction, purchasing, decommissioning and disposal options.
The plan should include:
- proposed actions
- cost/benefit and budget calculations
- objectives, milestones and dates
- individual responsibilities – do not name the person, but the position, because individuals may leave the organisation or move to other positions within the organisation
- any additional resources required
- communication / training requirements for clients and/or staff
- the evaluation
An important point to keep in mind is that it is essential that all the responsibility for implementation does not sit with one person or senior management. The person responsible for overseeing the ESP has a management role, but should not be responsible for all the actions necessary to develop and implement the system. For example, it is everyone’s responsibility to cut down on paper use, energy use and water use; the ESP manager cannot be everywhere to monitor the behaviour of individuals throughout the organisation. Executive management has responsibility for ensuring that the system is developed appropriately and implemented efficiently, however, the staff who report to them should be delegated specific responsibilities.
The ‘Environmental action plan’ should be integrated into other management tools, such as business plans and work programs.
Action plans must be reviewed regularly, normally when objectives and targets are being reviewed, to ensure a consistent and holistic approach.
Ensure teams are resourced to allow them to achieve their objectives
Resource allocation is a key component of the ESP. If teams are part of the process they must be given sufficient resources to allow them to achieve their objectives.
Resources requirements will depend on the tasks involved. Some tasks may require significant additional physical and/or human capital to be achieved, and others may require existing resources to be restructured or reallocated.
Representatives from teams should be part of any decisions about resource allocation, because they can provide a valuable perspective on the exact requirements of carrying out a particular task.
Agreeing to appropriate methods of implementation
In managing for sustainability, many businesses begin the journey in earnest when sustainability is documented in policy. Next a sustainability matrix is a requirement of all capital works programs. A sustainability coordinator is appointed to work within the company to coordinate sustainability initiatives and report to senior management.
The sustainability coordinator may hold other responsibilities. It makes sense to appoint the person/s responsible for safety and/or quality to also have responsibility for sustainability.
Standard phases and milestones
Phase 2 is a desktop review and a site inspection to ensure what is documented is being conducted on site. By phase 2 a business is expected to have a higher level of documentation and undertake the KPIs to a higher level than for phase 1. The site inspection limited to the major control measures.
Phase 1 is a desktop review. An auditor (usually the sustainability coordinator or a third party consultant) might go to the site and go through the sites’ documentation and undertake a quick evaluation (no more than 20 mins) to see if there are major non-conformance. A brief report will be prepared and submitted to management of the business. A successful phase 1 audit is marked as having:
- No major non-conformance are identified
- Only a few minor non-conformance are identified, subject to the auditor’s assessment
An auditor will go to the site and go through the sites’ documentation and undertake a quick review (approximately 1 hour) to see if there are major and minor non-conformance. A brief report will be prepared and submitted to management. A successful phase 2 audit is marked as having:
- No major non-conformance are identified
- Only a few minor non-conformance’s are identified, subject to the auditor’s assessment Phase 3 auditing is similar in scope to a partial ISO 14001 audit and initially comprises of:
- An overview of the documentation to ensure all KPIs are addressed
- A detailed assessment of a random 25% of the KPIs with a focus initially on control measures, their implementation, training and documentation
The site inspection will focus on:
- Control measures and the implementation of procedures for the 25% of randomly selected control measures
- Non-conformances associated with the other 75% of KPI not subject to detailed assessment
The following year’s audits will comprise of another 25% of the KPIs also including the documentation KPIs.
Barriers to changing policy
The main barriers of the introduction of changes to policy are the implications on capital expenditure. Many of the changes required have cost implications including, but not limited to:
- Changes to electronic and/or hard copy documentation
- Additional document control procedures to ensure compliance
- Additional staff or reallocation of existing staff to new duties
- Training staff on the new policies
- Purchasing policies calling for different raw materials
- Implications on replacement or upgrades to plant and equipment
- Third party auditors and/or consultants fees
Costs for changes
While many sustainability policy changes have a return on investment, ordinarily, there are upfront costs to a business, as mentioned above. Costs can be a range of things, depending heavily on your industry and the changes that have had to be made to the organisational policy documents. Some of these may include:
- Printing and marketing costs to notify staff and clients of the change
- Costs for new equipment
- Cost for new or transferred staff
- Professional development for staff
Apportioning the implementation of responsibilities
Typically a business will appoint a sustainability coordinator responsible for writing and administering sustainability policy. The sustainability coordinator will report directly to senior management and generally works with (or as) the quality and/or Occupational Health and Safety personnel.
An overarching company policy should be signed by the Managing director or the Chief Executive
Officer. This document should be displayed in the foyer of the company office, on the company website and in staff rooms as applicable.
Employees that are affected by the policy are informed by management of the impact and who they answer to through programs such as staff inductions, ongoing professional development and staff training days.